Melbourne Magistrates Court

$1.5m in trust account woes lands Victorian real estate agent in court

PHOTO: Melbourne

The former Torquay agent will appear in the Melbourne Magistrates Court to answer for trust account deficiencies.

Consumer Affairs Victoria alleges that Richard Michael Hayden, the former director and officer in effective control of Skyline Developments, also wrongfully converted more than $770,000 of trust account money to his own use.

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Having received five complaints from consumers claiming Mr Hayden had either failed to return deposit money following settlement, or did not reimburse deposits following the cancellation of a contract of sale, the Victorian consumer protection agency launched a review into the company’s trust accounts.

Inspectors seized 36 sale files in January 2019 and issued a statutory notice to Skyline Developments to provide further trust account records.

The body claims to have found 50 instances of trust account deficiencies and uncovered 98 occasions in which trust money held by Skyline Developments was transacted for Mr Hayden’s personal use.

The alleged offences took place between 14 January 2018 and 7 June 2019.

The Minister for Consumer Affairs froze two of Skyline’s trust accounts in March 2019, directed that the company cease operations as an estate agent and appointed a statutory manager to wind down the business.

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The case is listed for a committal mention on 31 January 2022.

With a number of consumers affected by Mr Hayden’s alleged actions, Consumer Affairs Victoria iterated that consumers who have lost money through licensed real estate agents are eligible for reimbursement from the Victorian Property Fund, which has repaid over $400,000 in claims to date.

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